English Audio – Play here or subscribe in your favorite podcast player.
(Verision en espanol aqui)

When I was in high school, I returned to my elementary school to help teach the grade school kids about engineering using a robot we built. I remember thinking, as I walked in the door, “this place has become smaller.” But the truth, of course, was not that building had changed in size but that I had changed. We don’t notice it because, within ourselves, we change slowly, but as the years go by, we look up and ask ourselves, “when did that change?” Of course, as we change, the world also changes around us. The world sometimes dramatically changes because of events we have no little to no control over. For example, pandemics.

We change over time, and the world changes over time. The effects of those changes change the way that we see the world. They give us a new perspective, sometimes quite literally, on life. Think of how your life has changed in the past two months…what’s different now? What’s different in you? What’s different in your world? Have your priorities shifted? How have they changed?

Here’s another thing we don’t control but changes the world: the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Christ’s resurrection is the dawning of a new world – a new heaven and new earth in the language of St. John’s Revelation. Christ died for our sins, destroying death by his death, and Christ rose to give us hope.[1] This change in the world should inspire in us a change in the way we look at the world. This a gift of the Holy Spirit, whom Christ promises in the Gospel. The Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot accept, will change the way that we live – “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.”[2] What is the fundamental truth that the Spirit makes us realize? That Christ is in His Father, and we are in Christ, and Christ is in us! Jesus does not leave us orphans. The Spirit continues to make Christ present in us at every moment of every day. The Spirit of Truth makes it clear to us that the Risen Christ comes to us but by grace.[3]

So, just as we asked ourselves questions about how has this pandemic changed our lives, I suggest that we ask questions like, “how has the Resurrection of Christ changed my life?”

It is a wonderful characteristic of human beings we can adapt to a new and difficult situation when we encounter it. But the thing is if we don’t recognize what’s new in the world or what’s new in ourselves, we will not change the way we see the world, much less the way we interact in the world. Because we fail to recognize that the Spirit makes Christ present, it comes about that all too often, you and I walk around as if we had no hope.

Saint Peter in Tears by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682)

St. Peter writes to newly formed Christian communities who are on the brink of despair and on the brink of losing faith because of this same experience. The people who made up these communities had professed their faith in Christ received baptism. Now, they experienced great challenges in their lives because of that faith. Most of them had been gentiles or pagans before their conversion to the faith. They had to adopt an entirely new way of living. St. Peter makes clear their baptism calls for a transformation in every area of their life. He mentions many of the important areas of life – marriage, and family, children, economic concerns, relationship with the state, to name but a few. St. Peter recognizes that this new way of living comes at a cost to these new Christians. He recognizes that they may, indeed, they probably will suffer as a result of the new life they live in Christ. Living differently – that is, living according to the love of Christ, which allows us to keep the commandments may mean – probably will mean suffering.

But St. Peter doesn’t just say, good luck with that suffering! No, he goes even further, he claims that suffering “for doing good, if that be the will of God, is better than suffering for doing evil.” Then he goes still further, saying, “rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed, you may also rejoice exultantly.”[4] St. Peter’s response to Christians suffering is neither to deny that suffering exists, nor to deny that it is evil, but rather to point Christians to its true meaning in light of the passion, death, and resurrection of the Lord. This is why he tells his readers, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” [5]

The act of “sanctifying Christ in our hearts” transforms suffering into a reason for our hope. But what does it mean to sanctify Christ? Notice that the Spirit makes us capable of cooperating to sanctify Christ in our hearts. The Spirit works in us to “sanctify Christ” by making us participate in Christ’s own life, making us aware of that participation, and helping us live accordingly – that is, to live with hope!

Our hope, brothers and sisters, flows from Christ’s promise, which is being fulfilled in our midst, that he will “not leave us orphans.” Indeed, we are not orphans, because we have “received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!” in union with the Son.[6]

Juan Bautista Maíno, 1615-1620, Pentecost

On biological level, a cry always implies a breath; we cannot cry out, if we lack breath. Spiritually, the same is true, we cannot cry out to Father without the “breath” of the Spirit. Our crying out then shows our ability to love the Father by participating in the Son’s own Love for the Father. At the moment of his death on the Cross, St. Luke tells us that Christ “crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ Having said this, he breathed his last.”[7] These words are not a cry of despair, but a cry of love, borne from Christ’s knowledge that the Father loves him, and he loves the Father. 

The Cry of Christ is our cry. Andrea Mantegna, Crucifixion, 1457-1460

Especially when we suffer, the dying words of Christ on the Cross also become our cry. On that day, on the day in which we suffer while recognizing that we have the gift of the Spirit, we will realize that Christ is in his Father and that we are in him and he in us.[8]This participation makes us capable of offering our suffering as a sacrifice in union with Christ. Suffering in us reveals God’s love to the world because through it we can offer sacrifice in union with the Son.   When we offer sacrifice in union with Christ, we sanctify Him in our hearts. This is the truth, which changes our lives. He is the Truth that changes our lives. The Spirit of Truth makes us participants in Jesus Christ’s own life. We see with new eyes, and thus can give a reason for our hope centered on the fact that Christ rose from the dead to the glory of the Father.

Masaccio, Holy Trinity, (c. 1426-1428)

[1] STh., III q.53 a.1 resp.

[2] John 14:15

[3] St. Thomas, Commentary on John, 1923

[4] 1 Pe 4:13.

[5] 1 Pe 3:14–15.

[6] Ro 8:15.

[7] Lk 23:46.

[8] Jn 14:20.

Published by Fr. Will Rooney

Fr. Will Rooney was baptized at St. Anthony’s Parish in Bryan, TX where his parents had been married. He has two younger brothers, David and Travis. Will received his First Communion at St. Anthony’s and around that time began to think about becoming a priest. Will was confirmed at St. Thomas Aquinas in May 2006. During high school, he actively participated in the parish youth group and was involved in robotics competitions. He and his brothers also raised poultry for 4-H and FFA projects. Upon graduation from A&M Consolidated High School in 2009, Will studied Biological and Agricultural Engineering at Texas A&M University. While at A&M, he worked as a Middle School youth minister and felt a growing desire toward the priesthood. In his senior year at A&M, he decided to apply for seminary, was accepted, and began attending Holy Trinity Seminary for pre-theology after he graduated. Two years later, Will was sent to St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston for theological studies. He served his pastoral year at St. Louis, King of France, Catholic Church and School in Austin (2017-2018). He was ordained to the Diaconate May 18, 2019, and served his deacon year at Our Lady of the Visitation in Lockhart, TX. He was ordained to the priesthood June 27, 2020 currently ministers at St. Mary Cathedral in Austin.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: